The Formula 1 silly season is still in full swing with the Oscar Piastri contract drama set for settlement by the FIA Contract Recognition Board on Monday. Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer is confident that Piastri, who strongly denied driving for Alpine in 2023, will drive for the Enstone team in 2023 alongside Estaban Ocon.
When asked by F1.com how confident he is in the validity of the Alpine contract, Szafnauer responded affirmatively. “Very. I have seen both sides of the argument and we are confident that Oscar signed with us back in November.”
Szafnauer also divulged more details about Piastri’s contract, which was initially rumored to have been over by the 31st of July. “There was no by the 31st of July…That 31st of July deadline that I read all the time is fictitious, it’s not in the contract that he signed. And the term of the contract, it is through 2024 with an option at the end of 2023.”
That July date is the pivot for this contract situation that involves three drivers and two teams. With the retirement of Sebastian Vettel from F1, Alonso moving into that vacancy at Aston Martin, Piastri denying the 2023 Alpine race seat, and Daniel Ricciardo officially leaving McLaren at the end of 2022, leaving a seat at either Alpine or McLaren for an opportunistic driver to seize for next season. Piastri is rumored to be McLaren’s first choice for Ricciardo’s race seat.
Szafnauer also said that he informed Piastri of his race seat before Alpine made the announcement. “I told Oscar before the announcement was made, he happened to be in the simulator so I went and found him, he smiled and was thankful, so we made the release very quickly.” The release Szafnauer mentions is the same press release that curiously lacked a statement from Piastri.
Piastri is still doing simulator work for Alpine at its headquarters while this contract umbrella gets unfolded and ironed out. According to Szafnauer, “The relationship hasn’t wavered and we continue.”
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